The program information below is valid for the fall 2019 term (September 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019).

The Graduate Studies Academic Calendar is updated 3 times per year, at the start of each academic term (January 1, May 1, September 1). Graduate Studies Academic Calendars from previous terms can be found in the archives.

Graduate research fields

  • Experimental Digital Media
  • Genres
  • Literary Theory and Discourse Analysis
  • Rhetoric
  • Admit term(s) 
    • Fall
  • Delivery mode 
    • On-campus
  • Length of program 
    • The program requires a minimum of 2 years of full-time study to complete and a maximum of 4 years of full-time study beyond the Master of Arts (MA).
  • Program type 
    • Doctoral
    • Research
  • Registration option(s) 
    • Full-time
    • Part-time
  • Study option(s) 
  • Minimum requirements 
    • Students may be admitted to the PhD program upon completion of an MA program in English. Although candidates normally enter PhD studies from Master's programs, it is possible for outstanding candidates to enter directly from an Honours Bachelor of Arts (BA). Because enrolment in the program is limited, only candidates with an 85% average and up will be considered. Applicants should also complete a Plan of Study detailing plans for their PhD studies and describing their goals once their studies are completed.
  • Application materials 
    • Supplementary information form
    • Transcript(s)
  • References 
    • Number of references:  3
    • Type of references: 

      academic

  • English language proficiency (ELP) (if applicable)

    PhD candidates will arrange for a graduate supervisor no later than the end of their first year in the program.

    Thesis option:

  • Graduate Academic Integrity Module (Graduate AIM)
  • Courses 
    • Students must complete 6 one-term graduate level courses (0.50 unit weight) beyond the Master's degree, as follows:
      • 1 Literature course
      • 1 Rhetoric and Communication Design or Experimental Digital Media course
      • 4 elective courses
    • Students may include 2 extra-departmental graduate courses in their degree requirements, but these courses must be approved by the Graduate Committee. For a course outside the University of Waterloo, the Ontario Visiting Graduate Student (OVGS) form must be completed. For a course inside the University, the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee must approve. In either case, the Department’s Graduate Office must be supplied with a syllabus in electronic form and the course must be approved before the beginning of the term in which it is scheduled to run.
    • Reading courses may supplement regular offerings in the program, although it is understood that they will be given only in exceptional circumstances. Students are permitted to take only 1 reading course as part of the degree. If students can demonstrate that a reading course is necessary to their overall program, they may petition the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee to allow such an independent course. Directed reading courses must be designed and submitted to the Graduate Committee by the instructor in consultation with the student, and the course outline (with rationale, reading list, assignments and schedule) must be approved by the Graduate Committee in the term prior to the one in which the course is to be run.
    • To graduate candidates must receive an average of 78% in their courses. To remain eligible for funding, candidates must maintain an 80% average. If a student receives one failing grade or two grades lower than 70%, the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee will review the candidate's standing in the program. The candidate may be asked to withdraw from the program.
  • Link(s) to courses
  • Academic Integrity Workshop
  • PhD Language Requirement
    • The language requirement must be fulfilled by the time the candidate's thesis topic has been approved.
    • Each candidate must attain or demonstrate basic competence subject to feasibility of testing by the University of Waterloo in a language other than English, excluding middle English but not Anglo-Saxon.
    • Proof of competence may take four forms:
      • Successful completion of two term of undergraduate study in a language for basic competence or two terms of advanced undergraduate study for advanced competence.
      • Successful sitting of an exam at the appropriate level set by a department of the University.
      • Completion of degree-level study in that language at another university.
      • Evidence of other kinds that is deemed sufficient by the Departmental Graduate Studies Committee.
  • PhD Research Seminar
    • The PhD Research Seminar (also referred to as the Professionalization Training Requirement) is a course on the development of research skills and professionalization, to be offered to second-year PhD students in the Fall term of every year that will meet weekly. The course will cover such topics as: preparation for area exams, preparation of a dissertation proposal, bibliographical skills, teaching strategies, the job market (academic and non-academic), conferences, writing for publication, curriculum vitae preparation, interview technique, and writing of grant applications.
  • PhD Comprehensive Examination
    • Students are required to meet the University-level PhD Comprehensive Examination minimum requirements outlined in the “Minimum requirements for the PhD degree” section of the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar (GSAC), with certain noted exceptions that are specific to the Faculty of Arts Comprehensive Examination minimum requirements:
      • Comprehensive examination purpose: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements.
      • Timing: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements. 
      • Committee: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements with the exception that in the Faculty of Arts, the Graduate Chair can approve the committee for comprehensive examinations.
      • Who Chairs an examination: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements.
      • Format / Content: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements.
      • Academic integrity: Consistent with University-level minimum requirements.
    • In addition to the University-level and Faculty-level PhD Comprehensive Examination minimum requirements, students in the PhD in English program are also required to meet the following requirements:
      • At the end of their coursework and preliminary to writing the dissertation, candidates are required to sit three examinations: two written and one oral. One written examination will be drawn from the Literary area and one from the Language area. Normally this will occur in year two.
      • The first written examination will comprise the candidate’s Secondary field, and the second written examination will comprise the candidate’s Primary field. The Primary exam will be followed by an oral defence of Primary examination questions and Primary reading lists.
      • Each written exam will be based on a core A-List of readings and a supplemental B-List of readings to be composed by the candidate and their committee.
      • The written examinations will be administered online in a take-home format.
      • Literary Areas:
        • American Literature
        • Canadian Literature
        • History of Literary Theory and Criticism
        • Middle English Literature
        • Nineteenth-Century British Literature
        • Postcolonial Literature
        • Renaissance English Literature (16th-17th centuries)
        • Restoration and Eighteenth-Century English Literature
        • Twentieth-Century United Kingdom and Ireland Literature
      • Language Areas:
        • Composition Theory and Pedagogy
        • Decolonizing, Transnational, and Diaspora Criticism
        • Discourse and Text Analysis
        • New Media
        • Rhetorical Theory and Criticism
  • PhD Thesis Proposal
    • Upon successful completion of the area examinations, candidates begin full-time work on their dissertations. Candidates must first prepare a dissertation proposal which includes a 3000-word description of the proposed research and a working bibliography of the primary and secondary texts that will serve as the source material for that research. These documents should be prepared in consultation with the supervisor and the other members of the candidate's Supervisory Committee. Upon approval of the proposal, the documents will be submitted to the Graduate Committee of the Department for approval. The deadline for submission to the Graduate Committee will normally be December 1st for the third year of registration in the PhD program, or six months after the completion of the area examinations. Candidates who fail one or more of their area examinations must first re-sit the relevant area examination or examinations before submitting the dissertation proposal. Failure to submit a dissertation proposal by the deadline will normally result in candidates losing their satisfactory standing in the Doctoral program along with their internal funding. If the submitted dissertation proposal is deemed to be unsatisfactory by the Graduate Committee, candidates must revise and resubmit within a period to be determined by the Graduate Committee. Candidates who fail to submit a satisfactory proposal in the second attempt may be required to withdraw from the program.
  • PhD Thesis
    • When a candidate has selected a supervisor, they will together seek two other members of the Faculty to form a Dissertation Committee. This committee is subject to the approval of the Graduate Committee of the Department. The dissertation will be an original study on a topic agreed upon by the candidate, graduate supervisor, and the Dissertation Committee. The dissertation will normally run 250 to 400 pages of typescript.
    • Once a candidate submits the dissertation for assessment, a committee for the oral defense will be struck.